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Tulip Festival tips

5 tips for a family trip to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

The Tulip Festival has begun- April 1-30

I have always loved the tulip fields in bloom at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, the romantic image of heading up on a misty morning, and my children running through rows of blooming colors that span the rainbow.

Hundreds of thousands of people come to the tulip festival each April to enjoy the beauty of the fields.

However, droves of visitors and fields of flowers stretching over a big valley can easily turn into a family outing gone bad. Here are five survival tips to help make sure your tulip trip goes well. And to come home with the photos that make your trip to the tulips memorable and worthwhile:


Photo courtesy of Tulip Town

Tulip Festival tips: Timing is everything

The timing of your trip can be the difference between a fun family outing or a long, stressful day spent mostly in the car. Skagit Valley is an hour’s drive (at least!) north of Seattle. There are two ways to avoid the biggest crowds: go midweek or arrive early. The earlier you arrive, the fewer crowds you will have to maneuver through. I suggest arriving at your first destination around 9 a.m. That means having snacks prepared, kids fed and clothed, and bodies out the door fairly early. And don’t forget your camera! ( see “How to take the best family photos at the Tulip Festival“)

Play ‘Name That Tulip’

I recommend stopping by one of the tulip nurseries first. They provide instant gratification to excited kids who want to see flowers, and you can pick up some catalogs for a game of “Name that Tulip” while you are in the fields. Get one for each person, including yourself or your partner, to avoid any squabbling. The catalogs provide the names and photos of many of the tulips you will see throughout your day. Send the kids out to hunt for a certain tulip, or just walk through the gardens and flip through the pages to find the names of the flowers on display. The game is simple, educational and fun, and the catalogs are a pretty keepsake of your outing.

Tulip Festival tips: what to wear

There is bound to be mud on any given day at the festival. Kids and mud … need we say more? A tulip festival veteran suggests packing two large garbage bags for dirty clothes; a box or laundry basket to keep muddy boots contained and off the carpet in the car; an extra set of clean clothes for each child; and pajamas, if you plan to stay late (for transferring sleepy kids directly to bed after the car ride home).

Tulip Festival tips: Check the map!

Tulips are a rotating crop, and blooming fields vary depending on climate conditions. Be sure to check the current field bloom map so that you don’t waste your time looking at green fields. Also, download the festival map ahead of time to plan your itinerary.

Get the best bang for your buck

Be sure to visit one of the tulip growers, RoozenGaarde or Tulip Town (Tulip Town will be opening early, Easter weekend) If your main goal is to see tulips in a garden setting, RoozenGaarde is the cream of the crop. Tulip Town offers lots of kid-centered activities, including face painting, kite flying and trolley rides through the tulip fields.

If you can fit it in, visit Chistianson’s Nursery for a huge selection of roses, perennials, and trees and delicious strawberry and whipped cream crepes; or Schuh Farms for fresh organic fruits and veggies, great milkshakes, and a chance to feed goats and chickens.

Know before you go

General admission to Tulip Town includes parking, entry and a trolley ride (weather permitting). Prices are $15 for ages 12 and older; $7 for kids 6-11; $13 for seniors and military. Kids 5 and younger are free. This spot has a cafe, indoor displays and a retail boutique.

RoozenGaarde charges $15 (weekday) and $17 (weekend) for everyone older than 2 to see its 5-acre garden, 25-acre tulip field and 20-acre daffodil field. It also has a gift shop and tulip market.

Garden Rosalyn showcases beautiful tulip fields during the tulip festival and dahlias between May and early fall. As an added attraction, this park loves local fowl. Festival admission prices can be found on the garden website.

Roads may be congested on days that draw big crowds. Saturdays are generally the busiest, followed by Sunday, Friday and Monday (in that order). Rainy days equal smaller crowds.

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About the Author

Isabel Sanden